UN chief praises Ecuador's border plan to help refugees
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Ecuador's border plan to help Colombian refugees in a letter read at a ceremony launching the initiative Tuesday.
According to UN data, Ecuador hosts most refugees from neighbouring Colombia, which means that the South American country deserves "the continuous support of the international community to face the humanitarian and development challenges of its northern frontier," Ban said in the letter.
"The United Nations hails the Ecuadorian government for launching this important initiative and hopes to hear more about the details and how the UN can help," he said.
In his letter, Ban also praised efforts made by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in the region.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said the plan aims to boost living conditions, employment opportunities, environment and security along the Ecuador-Colombia border.
Security should involve not only the police and army, but all residents in the region, he added.
Colombia has suffered a refugee crisis due to fighting between the government and two rebel groups that began in the mid-1960s.
According to the UNHCR, Colombia's internal conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 40,000 people since 1990, most of them civilians.
Over 3 million Colombians have been forced out of their homes because of the violence, with last year alone witnessing the displacement of more than 170,000 people.
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